How do you make time for a regular mindfulness or meditation practice?
It’s a great question & one I get asked a lot - unfortunately I don’t have any magic formula for you! I can tell you what works for me but I totally understand how challenging it is! Those who know me, know that if it’s not in my diary then it’s probably not going to happen & that’s the only secret I can share with you. For me, it’s part of my self care routine so in the same way as I schedule time to go for a massage, see my hairdresser, visit the dentist or get the gym sessions in (granted I do all of those much less often than I meditate!) the sentiment is the same. You need to make a date with yourself.
It’s then about discipline but not stressing yourself out if you miss a day or need to reschedule, that’s life. Priorities change, plans get turned upside down & some days/weeks it will be easier than others but don’t just give up because you had a bad day or week.
In the end its about what works for you & your life. In the beginning keep it short & simple & try just being mindful in your every day activities. For example;
Be fully present while you are brushing your teeth or taking a shower.
It's actually much tricker than it sounds but a great way to embed mindfulness into your day because most of us do these things every day (I hope) so it’s a great place to start. Typically we will be on autopilot & lost in our thoughts the whole time, so next time try really focusing on what you are doing & anytime you notice your mind has wandered gently bring the attention back.
When brushing your teeth - really pay attention to the sensations & feelings in your body & mouth, how does the brush feel against your lips, gums, teeth, tongue, notice how your arm moves to automatically put the toothbrush in your mouth, what position do you hold your arm in & how does it move as you brush, what does your toothpaste taste like, look like, smell like, does that change over time, what do you hear as you brush, what is your tongue doing, how does your mouth feel afterwards.
When taking a shower notice the feel of the water on your skin, the temperature, the way it washes over you, how it feels as it moves on your skin, the sound it makes, the smell of your shampoo, how your skin feels when its washed and so on.
Start the day with a 5 min breathing meditation before you get out of bed instead of checking your social media.
Begin by closing your eyes & relaxing your body, noticing how it feels against the bed, let yourself soften & become heavy as you explore how your body feels, scan it briefly from head to toe & notice what sensations & feelings are present, noting that there may not be anything specific or sensations may come & go. Release any areas of tension & tightness & simply breathe.
Find the rhythm of your natural breath —in, out, just breathing naturally. Noticing where you feel the breath moving in the body, through the abdomen, ribs, chest & how your body moves as you breathe. Let each breath unfold naturally noticing where the in breath turns into an out breath & where the out breath turns into an in breath. Placing all of your attention on the breath.
As you breathe, notice what you mind is doing, it will likely start to wander & you will find yourself thinking, planning, worrying or just lost elsewhere. This is completely natural so not something to worry about, just notice when it wanders, acknowledge where it has gone & then gently guide the focus back to the breath.
Stay for 5 minutes with your attention focused on breathing & returning to it each time the mind wanders.
At the end of the 5 minutes, let your awareness expand across the body & slowly back out to the room. Take a pause to notice how you feel before opening your eyes.
Take a mindful walk during your lunch break.
Not only getting some movement & exercise into the day but this is another really great example of how you can become more mindful in the day to day of life & it can be especially useful if you feel like you always need to be doing something & can’t sit still! Again, the idea is to really focus in on your walk & what is going on around you. Noticing how your body moves, the feel of the ground under your feet, the sounds around you, the temperature, how fast/slow you walk, really focusing in on how it feels just to walk.
As you begin to move notice how your foot moves & the sensations from heel to toe as it touches the ground. Focus on how it feels as your feet make contact with the ground & feel grounded & connected to the earth as you walk.
What do you see, hear, feel around you as you walk? Is the air warm or cool on your skin or is it damp or dry? How is the weather? What can you smell around you? Notice when you mind wanders & know that it will! When you notice your thoughts have drifted, notice what’s happening, smile & draw it back to your feet walking & what you are noticing in the moment, over & over again as you continue your walk. At the end of your walk, notice how you feel, reflect on your experience, notice your mood & how your body feels – be fully present
If you still find it difficult to do this alone (not at all unusual in the early days) or if you really need motivation then signing up for a weekly class, as a minimum, will get you started & the intention is key so be patient with yourself!
Remember it takes 90 days to embed a new habit but trust me it’s worth it